Adept political maneuvering may render hazardous policy
The China Post news staffWhen Jiang Yi-huah was tapped to be the premier, he was widely seen as a Ma loyalist and the continuation of his will at the Cabinet. Soon after his appointment, however, Jiang proved to be politically more inventive and daring than the president ever let on.
March 5, 2013, 12:35 am TWN
By announcing a referendum on the fate of Taiwan's Fourth Nuclear Power Plant, Jiang defused a political time bomb for the administration. The decision was particularly pertinent given that the anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown is fast approaching. With that single decision he also deprived the opposition of a strong rallying point, set the debate on the administration's terms and caught the opposition off guard.
The main opposition Democratic Progressive Party's caucus whip Pan Meng-an (潘孟安) said yesterday that the party will not take part in the upcoming petition campaign. The petition process is a formal requirement preceding any referendum. The party said it will neither support nor block the petition, and is doing so to highlight the irony of the infighting between the ruling administrative and executive Kuomintang members. That reasoning, however, sounds much like the excuse of a party still searching for a proper response.
In a truly formidable move, Jiang tied his premiership to the outcome of the referendum, offering to resign if the nation votes to halt the power plant's construction. He has exhibited a strong-handed style that Taiwanese often find appealing in their politicians. Such a move gives gravitas to the public vote and also provides the pro-nuclear power fraction a renewed platform to argue for their case.
Jiang has also shown himself to be a capable political wordsmith. When the wrong-footed opposition tried to discredit the referendum plan as a cheating move by the banker, Jiang turned the metaphor around and criticized the opposition as a gambler with no class who refuses to accept defeat.